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Top Boy 2: Exclusive interview with Saffron Hocking and Adwoa Aboah – 'It's completely surreal, mind-blowing and beyond exciting'
The ladies take a lead role in Top Boy 2, with Saffron Hocking’s character Lauryn returning from the abyss and Adwoa Aboah’s new character Becks bringing a new dimension to the show.
Loyalty is the central theme in Top Boy 2 and it plays a vital component in the female-led storylines too.
Two characters whose loyalties will be tested in the new series are Becks and Lauryn, played by Adwoa Aboah and Saffron Hocking.
Lauryn is Jaq’s (Jasmine Jobson) sister in the show. In the last series, Lauryn was forced to go on the run after revealing secrets to her boyfriend Leyton (Kola Bokinni), which led to an attempted hit on Sully (Kane Robinson). It put Jaq in a difficult situation and tested her loyalty to her sister. Top Boy 2 sees Lauryn involved in one of the series’ major storylines.
Adwoa Aboah is best known for her modelling and fashion career, having appeared on the cover of Vogue and the runways for Calvin Klein, Fendi and DKNY. Aboah plays a new character called Becks, who is Jaq’s new love interest and, like Lauryn, has to show Jaq that she can be loyal when walking in her world.
Aboah explains in more detail: “I play Jaq’s love interest. We meet one night. I’m not necessarily from her world, but I bring something different in terms of the way in which I was brought up. There’s the backstory that I’ve created for myself and the one’s that been written for the show.
"It’s not that I’m naive to her world, it’s not that, it’s not that there’s so much difference in that way, but it’s… I suppose, my vulnerability and my openness is something that kind of brings Jaq out of her shell. There’s a different way of living emotionally and I think I’ve pushed her to be more vulnerable and more open to love and a relationship outside of the one that she probably knows.”
The role was a dream come true for Aboah: “I was such a massive fan of the show. Simbi (Little Simz, who plays Shelly on the show) invited me to the first season’s premiere. You’ll probably see a picture of me on the red carpet just as a fan. I’ve been a fan of the show since it first started.
"It’s so important to see yourself represented in some sort of way in mainstream media and I did see myself represented in the actors that were on the show. It was this moment of realising that something was possible, so to now be in it is completely surreal and mind-blowing and beyond exciting.”
Representation is a big part of Beck’s character too. A gay relationship isn’t necessarily something you’d expect to see in a gritty, inner city drugs drama. But Aboah sees the relationship as relevant to the story and dismisses any notion of it being unnecessarily woke:
“Top Boy does such a great job. It’s not even like they need to think about putting these storylines into their show. I think far too often there’s this need to be woke and put in storylines so that you feel relevant. Top Boy’s done a great job of making sure that it’s always responsible for what’s going on in society, and gay relationships are. I think it’s done in such a subtle and beautiful way that it doesn’t feel like virtue signalling.”
One thing that is evident throughout Top Boy 2 is how strong the female-led storylines are. From old favourites such as Shelley and Jaq to newbies Mandy (Dris’s wife, played by Nolay) and Pebbles (Sully’s niece, played by Erin Kellyman), women take a central role in Top Boy 2.
Hocking explains: “When I received the scripts I was so happy with them and so grateful that Ronan (Bennett, the show’s creator) had written such an incredible story arc to play as an actor, it’s like a dream role.
"You meet my character a few months down the line where she’s left off and she’s now in a pretty toxic situation in terms of her living with a man and her sister who aren’t very nice to her, and I’m pregnant, and you’re kind of taken on a journey of what I go through.
“It was very interesting to play that idea of being such an isolated person in a world that is usually so busy for her, that she so desperately wants to get out of. She’d rather go back to Summerhouse where she’s been shunned from and told to never go back than stay in the situation she’s in.”
Aboah agrees, “He’s (Ronan Bennett) done such a great job this season in regards to the female-led storylines. Yours (Lauryn’s) especially is something that really stands out to me as something that a lot of attention’s been put on it to make sure that your character stands alone from everything that’s really going on in the show.”
Top Boy 2 is available to watch on Netflix from 18 March